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Accompanied by a lengthy essay, "A Few Notes on the Culture" (1997), these seven arresting short stories and the disturbing novella that provides the title for Banks's latest SF collection all date from 1984–1987, the period of his bizarre mainstream novel The Wasp Factory and the extravagant genre novel Consider Phlebas, both cult-inspiring works. In short pieces like "Road of Skulls" and "Piece," Banks turns convention upside down and inside out, with shocker-endings that linger like smoke rising from a crematorium. "Odd Attachment" traces a marooned spaceman and his AI suit on a tortuous survival trek across an uninhabited planet, illustrating Banks's preoccupation with the "self-generative belief system" that applies to both humans and AIs in the Culture, the setting for the title story and some of his SF novels. Viewing Earth and Homo sapiens through the eyes of the Culture, a galactic group-civilization spawned by a handful of humanoid species several thousand years in the past, allows Banks to speculate on his dearest philosophical topics: the preferability of anarchy in space, denunciation of market economies as "synthetic evil," never-ending education for both humans and machines, and genetic manipulation. For all their wrenching images and sadistic twists, Banks's unsettling tales bestow a grim gift, the ability to see ourselves as others might see us.
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'Banks is a phenomenon: the wildly successful, fearlessly creative author of brilliant and disturbing non-genre novels, he's equally at home writing pure science fiction of a peculiarly gnarly energy and elegance' William Gibson 'Few of us have been exposed to a talent so manifest and of such extraordinary breadth' The New York Review of Science Fiction 'Unfailing inventiveness and wit' GuardianSee all Product Description
I've loved all Banks's Culture novels I've read so far. Highly recommended.Published 5 days ago by Brian
...this is not a collection. There is a short-story collection of Banks', but it was only released by his British publisher (Orbit, in 1991). Read morePublished on July 14 2001
Adult and young adult fans of fiction in the disturbing tradition of Roald Dahl will appreciate this collection of short stories.Published on Nov. 11 2000 by Amazon Customer
Banks is quite simply on of the greatest modern SF writers. His books are always a treat for everyone, SF fan or not. Read morePublished on June 13 2000 by Randall Barnhart
If you've never read an Iain Banks book, don't start with this one. If you've become a "Culture" fan from other books by Banks, then this may offer some early insight... Read morePublished on Feb. 2 2000 by Kelly O'Hearn
Look at it this way - State of The Art is a great short story with some additional filler between the covers. But what a great short story it is. Read morePublished on Feb. 23 1999